Criterion Games plans to shake up the FPS genre with Black in exactly
the same way it sent tremors through the racing genre with Burnout:
First-person shooters always pull in crowds, but in a genre that’s
dominated by licenses, online play, and squad-based shooters, it takes
a brave studio to branch out and create something original–especially
on the current generation of consoles.
With both Xbox 360 and PS3 on the horizon, Criterion has chosen today’s
consoles for its single-player-focused first-person shooter that
emphasis exaggerated destruction rather than stealth and tactics.
Black’s main sources of inspiration are the straight-up action movies
of the 1980s. Creative Manager Alex Ward explains, “We’re a little sad
that films like True Lies or Die Hard aren’t being made anymore, and
wanted to create a game that was all about explosive action and
Taking crack shots at enemy soldiers is only the start. Everything a
player sees, from enemies to vehicles, phone boxes to road signs,
buildings and brick walls, can be blasted to fragments of their former
selves. Within seconds of the player picking up a pad and squeezing the
triggers, once-lovely textures become riddled with holes and smothered
in clouds of dust. And it’s a well-thought-out arsenal that brings the
feeling of firing heavy weapons to life. Tools such as the riot
shotgun, submachine gun, hand cannon, and RPG look and act
authentically—but the sheer noise they make is what makes observers sit
up and take notice.
There is more to Black than just blowing stuff up. The way you blow
stuff up affects the enemies around you. Taking out the opposition
after the set of pillars you hit with a grenade fell to the floor is
known as a “Black Ops” kill. Explosions cause the game world to
crumble, sending truck-sized chunks of debris raining down on enemies
below. Shoot up the car the terrorists are using for cover and they
won’t pose any further threats. This vulgar display of power happens in
real time and is different each time you pull the trigger.
Criterion has put to great use its proprietary technology RenderWare,
the power behind such titles as Sonic Heroes, The Movies, Coldwinter,
NBA Ballers, and Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon. There are over 500
games either in development or already published using Criterion’s
tools, and Black is up there with the very best of them.
The lack of any form of multiplayer mode is surprising, but Criterion’s
focus on delivering nothing but an incredibly intense experience should
make Black the start of a beautiful new franchise for EA. Rumors of the
game being primed for a next-generation console have yet to be